Altar Stone - July 4

Posted on June 28, 2018 in: General News

Altar Stone and Cornerstone

In celebration of the parish’s 195th anniversary, on July 4 at the 9 am Mass, an altar stone will be placed in the altar.

The date of the 4th of July is significant since the cornerstone for our church was laid on the same day in 1874 by Bishop Ryan.

Below is a photograph of the inscription on the back of the stone for the altar at All Saints which authenticates the martyrs Pope St. Clement I, St. Irenaeus, and St. Liberatus of Rome. The inscription is in Latin with the date of 1959. The stone was acquired from the Reclamation Center at the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The Center holds items from churches that have been closed. Altar stones are removed when a church is no longer being used as a place of worship. We do not know the church where the altar stone resided.

The tradition of an altar stone originates from the earliest days of Christianity. The remains of martyrs were placed in above ground tombs where the church would gather for worship during the times of persecution. The tomb was a box shape with a stone slab similar to a table. The table tomb was used as the altar for Mass. In fact, the remains of the martyrs were under the altar. When Christians no longer had to worship secretly, they still wanted the presence of their martyrs near them. They removed the bones, put them into jars which were placed beneath the altar.

A verse in the Book of Revelation (6:9) gives reference to the souls under the altar, “When he broke open the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered because of the witness they bore to the word of God.”

The custom of martyrs’ relics was modified during Vatican II where it was not required for an altar.